Thursday, May 17, 2012

Eat flowers — and dirt — at the new Affare

Why flowers and dirt are on the Affare menu.

Posted By on Thu, May 17, 2012 at 2:36 PM

Literally a garden on a plate: flowers and dirt.
  • Literally a garden on a plate: flowers and "dirt."

I have eaten more than my share of unappetizing dishes in my day - mostly crow. And dirt? Well, considering my notorious clumsiness, I've dropped God only knows how many doughnuts, hot dogs and deep-fried Twinkies on the ground over the years and still eaten them. And to paraphase Stephen Sondheim: I'm still here.

I don't believe I've ever seen dirt listed as a menu ingredient before I dined at chef-owner Martin Heuser's German bistro, Affare, last night. The small-plate menu includes a salad with an array of fresh greens, asparagus stalks, paper-thin radish slices, flower petals and edible soil. Did I read that correctly?

Yes, according to our server, Josh (formerly of the Brookside Avenues Bistro, like about half of the servers here), who explained that edible soil is not a dirty little secret but a concoction of portobello mushrooms, cocoa, almond oil and chopped almonds. It looks like high-grade mulch and tastes kind of chewy, a little nutty. I wouldn't want to make, you know, a meal of it.

There are also fresh flower blossoms scattered on the equally pretty red-beet salad with goat cheese and spiced pecans. Chef Heuser has opened a visually arresting restaurant - it looks more like an art gallery than Bar Natasha, the best-known previous tenant - and he wants his food to reflect this restaurant's artistic ambitions.

The venue at 1911 Main hasn't had the best track record since Bar Natasha closed in 2008. Local femme mimic Flo's Cabaret was short-lived, but even it lasted longer than the jazz club, 1911 Main, that followed it. You have to give Heuser, his wife, Katrin, and their staff kudos for cleaning the space until almost every surface gleams. The awkwardly large space has been transformed into a very tastefully appointed dining room painted in cool, soothing colors. The concrete floor is now the color of maple syrup, and the tables are covered in crisp white tablecloths, accessorized with shiny flatware, and it's always an asset to look at a good-looking waitstaff.

German cheesecake, anyone?
  • German cheesecake, anyone?
Because so many of the dishes sound ravishing, it's easy to get carried away and order a lot of small plates. (The final bill wasn't as costly as I expected, but let's be real: Affare isn't a snack bar, no matter how petite some of the portions seem to be.) Three of us shared a number of terrific tapas, including a superb hunk of lightly sauteed flaky halibut perched on a jumble of chopped fresh tomato and pungent ginger, a supple scallop draped in a cloak of foie gras hollandaise, obese ravioli stuffed with spinach and sausage and bedecked with caramelized onion, and a magnifently tender bison short rib topped with a sheath of seared foie gras.

Heuser makes the desserts, including a warm apple strudel and an airy, custardy cheesecake, in his own kitchen. Patrons who come into Affare looking for fried Schnitzel and Black Forest cake may be disappointed, but adventurous eaters will find the restaurant to be a very European affair.

Comments (3)

Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

Readers also liked…

More by Charles Ferruzza

People who saved…

Most Popular Stories

Slideshows

All contents ©2014 Kansas City Pitch LLC
All rights reserved. No part of this service may be reproduced in any form without the express written permission of Kansas City Pitch LLC,
except that an individual may download and/or forward articles via email to a reasonable number of recipients for personal, non-commercial purposes.

All contents © 2012 SouthComm, Inc. 210 12th Ave S. Ste. 100, Nashville, TN 37203. (615) 244-7989.
All rights reserved. No part of this service may be reproduced in any form without the express written permission of SouthComm, Inc.
except that an individual may download and/or forward articles via email to a reasonable number of recipients for personal, non-commercial purposes.
Website powered by Foundation